this morning was cold after the rain that rode in through the night. last night we stayed past midnight outside, drinking the air as it grew colder on our lips. the fog sat heavily on its haunches, watching the green mountains soak deeper colors into its bones. i feel autumn coming, and it fills me with hope that  this year’s winter will bring a different kind of warmth, unlike previous years before it.

an old friend called me last night.

and another old friend fell in love.

By the Same Author
James Longenbach (2012)

Today, no matter if it rains,
It’s time to follow the path into the forest.

The same people will be walking the same dogs,
Or if not the same dogs, dogs that behave in similar fashions,
Some barking, some standing aloof.
The owners carry plastic bags.

But this is the forest, they complain, we must do as we like.
We must let the dogs run free,
We must follow their example,
The way we did when we were young.

Back then we slept, watched TV—
We were the dogs.
By the time the screen door slammed, we were gone.

Nobody really talks like that in the forest.
They’re proud of their dogs,
Proud especially of the ones who never bark.
They’re upset about the Norway maple, it’s everywhere,
Crowding out the hickories and oaks.

Did you know it takes a million seeds to make one tree?
Your chances of surviving in the forest,
Of replicating yourself, are slim.

Today, the smaller dogs are wearing raincoats,
The bigger ones are stiffing it out.
They’re tense, preoccupied,
Running in circles,
Getting tangled in the leash—

It’s hard remaining human in the forest.
To move the limbs of the body,
To speak intelligible words,
These things promise change.

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